Concern but little action over 'green IT' so far

Vendors are jumping on green bandwagon but few corporate customers have formalized energy-reduction programs.

Buyers of computing gear are concerned about environmental and energy matters but few have comprehensive plans to address them, according to recently published research.

Forrester Research on Thursday published a report showing that 85 percent of 124 IT procurement officers surveyed thought environmental matters were important.

Those priorities dovetail with IT vendors who are stepping up efforts to develop energy-efficient products, such as IBM's Project Big Green launched Thursday, and tackle environmental problems.

However, despite the availability of products, such as servers and chips that consume less power, only one quarter of the IT managers surveyed said they had formalized "green" criteria in their processes.

Many companies already have environmental initiatives under the rubric of corporate social responsibility. But "green" initiatives within IT are motivated primarily by cost savings, said Christopher Mines, the report's author.

"We heard two reasons why green matters: efficiency and corporate responsibility. Most IT decision-makers told us that a green purchase would only happen in the context of cost reduction. These are hard-headed, ROI-driven business decisions," Mines said in a statement.

The study found that awareness of green issues varies widely among different customer companies but there was interest in hearing more from vendors.

The report also noted that vendors' green efforts include recycling and reduction of electronic waste, supply-chain efficiency, and less energy-intensive manufacturing processes.

Mines forecasts that there will be more marketing from vendors about their green IT products as well as more scrutiny by environmental organizations and more discussion overall.

A separate study by communications consulting firm Hill & Knowlton, which queried 420 people involved in IT decisions, found results similar to those published by Forrester Research.

The Hill & Knowlton survey found that most organizations don't have a defined energy strategy and that 77 percent thought that there should be a chief energy officer.

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